Maine gov apologizes for 'Gestapo' remark
July 9th, 2012
02:59 PM ET
7 years ago

Maine gov apologizes for 'Gestapo' remark

(CNN) - Maine Gov. Paul LePage apologized Monday for referring to the Internal Revenue Service as the "Gestapo" in his weekly radio address over the weekend.

"It was not my intent to insult anyone, especially the Jewish Community, or minimize the fact that millions of people were murdered," the Republican governor said in a statement.

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In a speech Saturday blasting the Supreme Court's recent decision to uphold President Barack Obama's health care reform, LePage directly addressed the high court's ruling of the law's penalty as a "tax."

He argued that Congress could now use its taxation power to "compel behavior or lack thereof," and asked what the government would do next: "More taxes if we don't drive Toyota Priuses or if we eat too much junk food or maybe even pea soup?"

He continued: "This decision has made America less free. We the people have been told there is no choice. You must buy health insurance or pay the new Gestapo – the I.R.S."

LePage's office posted his prepared remarks on his website, which includes the sentence about the Gestapo. It also links to audio of the speech, but the link fails to connect to the actual clip.

In his apology Monday, he expressed concern that the controversy had overshadowed the original intent of his address.

"Clearly, what has happened is that the use of the word Gestapo has clouded my message," he said, saying the health care law "rations" care and could "negatively impact millions of Americans."

"We no longer are a free people. With every step that Obamacare moves forward, our individual freedoms are being stripped away by the Federal Government. This should anger all Americans," he said.

Democratic state lawmakers, seizing on the comments this weekend, had charged the governor with trivializing those who suffered under the Gestapo, the secret police force that operated under Nazi-controlled Germany.

House Democratic Leader Representative Emily Cain and Assistant Democratic Leader Senator Justin Alfond said the language was "intentionally offensive."

"This goes beyond political rhetoric," Cain said in a statement.

Her office added that LePage, who's known for making off-the-cuff statements in the past, read his speech from prepared remarks, and did not ad-lib the remark during his address.

"He was trying to pick a fight, he knew exactly what he was doing," Alfond told CNN, saying he was worried about how the comments may affect the state's reputation to outsiders.

"The governor should do something right for the wrong that he created."

LePage was elected in 2010 with tea party support. His office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

- CNN's Janet DiGiacomo, Steve Brusk and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Filed under: Health care • Maine • Paul LePage • Supreme Court • Taxes
soundoff (222 Responses)
  1. rs

    Certainly no inflammatory language there. No truth, either. Why does the main stream meadia allow Republicans to call the ACA: "budget busting", "job killing", "socialist", "government takeover", and more? NONE OF IT IS TRUE. Yet, like other certain WWII German metaphores, they are allowed to repeat the lie until it is believed. Do your job media. Point out the liars in the room!

    July 9, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  2. Jon

    No matter is you are a Dem or Repub, this was shameful.

    July 9, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  3. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Really? Is that really the case? The new health law doesn't allow the IRS to do anything but collect the penalty for those that are able to buy insurance but don't. The question is would be better for a new agency to collect the penalty and have broad inforcement abilities? I think the rules on the IRS and this penalty is just fine. If this governor doesn't like the law, then he should get it repealed and tell his state why those items like removing lifetime caps and making sure that anyone can get coverage should be repealed.

    July 9, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  4. Pete

    Time for the IRS stormtroopers to audit this republican governors taxes.That'll shut him up,he'll sing another tune after they get done with him,they're good at making people see the light,monetary wise that is!!They'll call him in yearly from then on letting him know when they'll be done with him at their schedule not his..His ignorent mouth ,much like all republicans seemingly always get them in trouble but this one is most likely will be costly..Good luck governor have fun,just make sure you have " all" your papers ready,they just love to fine people like you!!

    July 9, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  5. brian in denver

    Another thoughtful, intelligent comment from the mouth of a GOP governer. What an absolute clown show!

    July 9, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  6. Jules

    Stupid is as stupid does – or in this case says. Do people in this country really by this load of fertilizer?

    July 9, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  7. nchunter

    IRS doesn't do it job now, anyone think they can handle this. Lot more government jobs with little result.

    July 9, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  8. Publius Novus

    LePage illustrates the folly of supporting third-party candidates. You never quite know what you are voting for. And of course, Maine is about to do it again for the Senate.

    July 9, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  9. Name JR

    A better comparison would be the fed govt resembles organized crime.

    July 9, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  10. Thomas

    Is he accusing the IRS of anti-Semitism ?

    It's like the F├╝hrer criticizing the , SS / Gestapo .

    July 9, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  11. Oliver

    As a jewish American, with family that survived the holocaust, this kind of language makes me sick. Enough with the Hitler, nazi, communist, bla bla bla. When the irs starts rounding people up and gassing them to death, then feel free to draw comparisons. Until then, go sit on a tac.

    July 9, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  12. bearced

    Thank You again Mr Lepage, for making Maine look stupid.

    July 9, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  13. CBR

    Maine Democrats are not the only ones "pouncing" on the Governor. The use of the word is just one more ridiculous statement during LePage's tenure. He loves the limelight and this criticism does not appear to bother him at all. He definitely does not represent the majority of Mainers.

    July 9, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  14. mannycl

    And the Governor is right. I think the nickname of Gestapo for the IRS is quite adequate,

    July 9, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  15. Ronald Morris

    I do not consider this to be an outrageous stretch. SCCJ Roberts has given Congress completely unlimited taxing authority. Furthermore the highly political nature of this bill is precedent that other taxes, such as a tax on Union membership or a tax on not being an union member would both be legal. How about a tax on not being a member of a nationally recognized church? Or a tax on not being a member of a political party? As long as you do not name the church, political party or union all of those are legitimate using this precedent.

    July 9, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  16. Darryl

    This guy needs to shut-up, suck it-up and deal with it.Health Care has been an issue for over 70 years and it is OVER !

    July 9, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  17. Sniffit

    Yes, because, you know, the first thing Hitler did...after disbanning all the labor unions, creating a "papers please" police state and demamgoguing an entire race/religion of people in order to stir up the widespread fear and nationalistic fervor required to launch a fascist state...was to make sure everyone had health insurance and make them pay a small monetary penalty if they didn't.


    July 9, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  18. Sniffit

    "Yeah, like Democrats are happy to have the IRS sticking its nose in their private lives"

    I'm sorry, but did we miss the part where the IRS already requires you disclose every aspect of your financial life in order to file your tax returns correctly? What's the matter, can't hide your non-insured status in an off-shore account?

    July 9, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  19. DaveC

    LePage and his cronies are only to happy to call the IRS names but you don't see them turning down any money that comes their way from the federal government. Maybe this name calling would have a little more credibility if that happened. I have said it before and I will say it again. If a state or district elected a governor, representative, or senator that had tea party support the federal government should immediately cut off all tax dollars to that state or district. Put your money where you mouth is. These are the same people who blast Obama for his "socialist" tendencies but are more than happy to take stimulus money. What nonsense.

    July 9, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  20. Jeff

    If they were anything like the Gestapo then we wouldn't know the where abouts of Mr. LePage anymore would we? This constant, casual, use of one of the most horrifying chapters in human history only belittles something that should stick out in our minds. People call the IRS Gestapos or call the President a dictator with what seems to be little or no concept of what those terms truly mean.

    July 9, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  21. cobra

    All the left wing progressives can see is something is free for them, they don't give a s chit about what it does to the people that are going to be paying the bills. The deocratic party has disappeared as it has been hy jacked by the left wing that work for the government and there fore pay no federal taxes, argue that one dumbies, or the work for a union and they have no ambition to improve themselves, they just suck off the real Americans. The left wing always complains about the rich republicans but never a word about the democrats/socialist that just use them.

    July 9, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  22. grahame rhodes

    Republicans....................We're poor little sheep who have lost our way...BAA BAA BAA...
    Republicans....................We just want the middle class to pay..................BAA BAA BAA...

    July 9, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  23. Sniffit

    oops, edit:

    "Do your job media. Point out the liars in the room!"

    If they did that, they'd quickly have nothing left to "report" on. The only way they can perpetuate the cycle of he-said-she-said gossip infotainment, and the massive amounts fo ad revenue that incentivize it, is to manufacture a false equivalency. Sooo, when GOP/Teatroll says "Hitler gestapo dictator socialist muauauaua" it is NOW exactly the same, equally legitimate and similarly factually supportable as Obama or a Dem saying "our tax code and structure has been redistributing the wealth upwards for 40 years."

    July 9, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  24. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Man, am I glad I used to live on the New Hampshire side of the river! Is this guy trying to channel Chris Christie? If so he is doing it with half of Christie's charm and tact. He, Joe Wilson and Joe Walsh should form a mutual appreciation society.

    July 9, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  25. Learntoread

    Gestapo...Hitler...Fascism...Nazis.... Shame on the simpletons who compare creating a healthcare system that includes everyone to DEATHCAMPS in Germany.

    These politicians should be held accountable. If we had the same hate laws now enforced in Germany perhaps these people would be called out on these terrible comments and analogies.

    6 million Jews were killed in the camps during WW2. 20 milllion Russians died. 2 million Allied forces. All desroyed by the Nazis and the SS and the Gestapo.

    And Now the Republicans compare health care–SAVING peoples lives–to gas chambers? Do these politicians even have a degree of edicate? any understanding of history?


    July 9, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
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